What Really Causes Bunions
This is actually the most common toe deformity humans develop. While this is a condition that can happen to individuals from virtually any demographic, females have bunions more frequently than other groups.
There is a bit of a misconception when it comes to the prominence of this particular condition among the female population. Many are quick to attribute this phenomenon to the shoes women wear – yet that’s not entirely accurate.
It’s easy to understand why people might think it is, though. After all, stylish women’s footwear are often high-heeled models, like stilettos and pumps.
Those shoes obviously elevate the heel, which then places extra pressure on the forefoot. On top of that, they usually feature narrow, pointy fronts. So the conditions seem ripe for bunion development.
What that theory doesn’t take into consideration is the fact bunions are often related to structural instability and imbalance, especially relating to connective tissues.
Men have connective tissues holding the metatarsophalangeal (MTP) joint together as well, so why is this more of a problem for women?
The answer to this could come down to a hormone known as relaxin.
Relaxin plays an integral role in a female’s ability to give birth by relaxing ligaments. The intended ligaments are primarily found, naturally, in the pelvic region, but relaxin can affect connective tissues elsewhere in the body – including down in feet.
Bunions often run in families, which suggests that the inherited shape of the foot may predispose one to them.
Specifically, flat feet are unstable and cause overpronation, which frequently causes bunions to form. Bodyweight is repeatedly transferred to the hallux (big toe) while walking, and in flat feet, this transfer of weight allows certain muscles to become stronger than others. The overpowering of muscles causes the toe to bend and deform.
Improper shoes (tight, pointy-toed, or high-heeled footwear) exacerbate the underlying cause of flat, unstable feet – and are not actually a cause!